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The Cure for Complaining

by Jessica Cassel

Think your life is hard? Itís time to consider going on a mission trip!

 I live in a family of seven, and we take turns doing jobs like laundry and cooking. It used to be that when my turn came to do laundry, I’d complain to myself (sometimes aloud) about doing it—until I went to Haiti on a mission trip.

The summer sun was high in the sky as my mom, little sister, and I, along with the rest of the mission team, grabbed our luggage off of the conveyor belt in the middle of the small Haitian airport. We planned to go to an orphanage, paint the older kids’ room, take care of babies, and do whatever else we could that needed to be done. It would be a different kind of mission trip than any I’d previously experienced.
The difference started right at the airport. Our transportation was a van or a big truck with benches in the back of it along its sides, and a truck for our luggage. As the men loaded the luggage into the truck, some of our group filled up the van. After we finished loading the truck, the rest of us found spots to sit among the luggage. The van pulled out, and the truck followed, jerking its way onto the street. As we bumped and swayed and tried not to fall out of the truck, I reminded myself not to complain about the road conditions at home.
A few minutes later we arrived at our hotel. We unloaded the truck and took our luggage to our rooms. But there was no time to rest. We were leaving right away to go to the orphanage to start our work.
At the orphanage our group had a choice of jobs. The guys mostly did construction, while the girls worked with the kids, washed clothes by hand, and sorted clothes, diapers, and formula. Some of the team members painted murals in the older kids’ room.
I went to work in the nursery with a few other women and my mom. It was fun to feed and rock the babies. After a little while I walked down to the toddler room and played with the kids there. In no time the orphanage director was calling us for dinner.
What is this stuff? I thought, scooping a little bit of the rice onto my plate. The food turned out to be rice with black beans and some type of sauce to go on top of it. When we were finished eating, it was time to go back to the hotel for the night. On the way to the hotel I reminded myself not to complain about our food at home.
The next day I saw some women doing laundry. Maybe they need help, I thought. It won’t hurt to ask them.
Walking up to the women, I motioned with my hands to ask if they needed help. They smiled, and one of them led me to a bucket where there were about 50 pieces of dirty clothing.
I reached for the first piece, a white shirt stained from tons of wear. How many kids have worn this shirt? I wondered as I put it under the water and scrubbed it. Pulling the shirt out of the water, I twisted it, causing smelly water to splatter everywhere. It made the women laugh.
I dropped the shirt into another bucket and picked up the next piece of clothing, a pair of shorts I’d seen one of the boys wear. Piece by piece I kept on washing the clothes, yet the pile  didn’t seem to get any smaller.
How did I get myself into this? I thought as the women brought me another bucketload of laundry to work on. I smiled and just kept washing. Is it lunchtime yet? Maybe lunch will be early today, I hoped, but I knew it was only about 10:00 in the morning.
Other team members joined me in helping wash the clothes, so I had company. By lunchtime I’d washed several tubs of clothing by hand in buckets of cold water that had drenched me; I felt totally sweaty, and my hair was going every which way. I promised myself that when I got home, I’d be more thankful for our washer and dryer. I’d never complain again about the simple task of unloading the clothes from the dryer—at least not for a few weeks.
First Thessalonians 5:18 is right: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 
Jessica Cassel writes from Florida.

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